What do these four images have in common?
Their format is a hint, of course. They were all taken with my Hasselblad 503 CXi, but more importantly …
In this blogpost, I’m exploring the way using a medium format film camera like the Hasselblad reacts upon the way you photograph.
I suppose you’re familiar with the slow food movement. Photographing with a medium format SLR camera on film is similar in concept. Granted, the Hasselblad has historically often been used on location or in the studio for portraits or fashion shoots, and it still is a fine tool for that. My use of it in the landscape is even more decelerated. It’s almost always on a tripod which is carried over the shoulder. I see a scene, a slant of light or a combination of colors, put the tripod down and take a bit of time to frame the picture. But not too much, it is inconceivable how fast the light changes sometimes!
From my view on my subject derives the aperture, and once that’s set, I get out my Sekonic spotmeter and measure those shadows that I want to position on Zone 3. Two shutter speeds faster is my exposure. Very seldom do I have to enter into a conversation with the light values of the scene. I use negative film for color and of course also for black and white and develop it myself. This brings me to:
Use film and be done!
It really is that simple. No “chimping” in the field. That only interrupts the flow. Once you’ve taken your image and perhaps a backup photo exposed one EV more (which negative film is always grateful for), you’re done here. You move on, you stay in connection with your surroundings, with the mood and the light. Nothing more to do but stay receptive for your next subject. In front of which you only need to go through the same motions. The quality of the images you bring home will not depend on a myriad of bells and whistles in your DSLR, but on how open and creative you stayed. It’s your inner eye, not the camera, stupid!
But it *is* the camera!
Some cameras foster this mode of working in the field, and some hinder it. This you will see in your results and feel while going through your catch, separating the wheat from the chaff. Repeatedly, I’ve had the experience of getting more keepers from a strip of film than from a full SD-card. The more attention the technical act of taking a shot solicits, the further your soul gets from being with your subject. A camera and accessories that get out of your way while taking a photograph will enable you to be more creative. Don’t let the industry tell you otherwise!